THE OFFICE OF LORD WARDEN
Admiral the Lord Boyce KG GCB OBE DL
Lord Warden and Admiral of the Cinque Ports
The Lord Warden and Admiral of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle is Admiral the Lord Boyce KG, GCB, OBE, DL. Born in 1943, Lord Boyce was educated at Hurstpierpoint College and the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. He joined the Royal Navy in 1961 and rose to the position of First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, in 1998. He served as Chief of the Defence Staff and Aide-de-Camp to H.M. the Queen from February, 2001. On his retirement, in 2003, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce was created a Life Peer (with the title Baron Boyce) and now sits as a cross-bencher in the House of Lords. The Lord Warden was appointed in July 2004 by The Queen, on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Lord Boyce was installed in office, at a session of the Grand Court of Shepway held in Dover, on Tuesday 12 April, 2005.
Click here for photographs of the Installation.
Now purely an honorary and ceremonial position, in years past, the Lord Warden and Admiral of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle(to give him his full title) was one of the most powerful figures in England.
The office of Constable of Dover Castle pre-dates the Norman Conquest. As the title suggests, the Constable commanded the important coastal defences in this area; one of several such officials in charge of the various strongholds defending the south coast.
For many years there was little centralised control over the activities of the Cinque Ports as a whole. It was not until the start of the 13th Century, after the loss of Normandy by the English Crown, that the need was perceived for increased supervision of the coastal defences, especially in time of war.
This need was originally met by the appointment of a number of Custodes or Wardens, each with responsibility for a particular port and the surrounding area. Soon, however, the advantage of combining control of the coastal defences with the collective supervision of the Cinque Ports became apparent and, from the Wardenship of Stephen de Pencestre (1265-92), the offices of Constable of Dover Castle and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports have been held by the same person.
Amongst the privileges granted to the Cinque Ports, the Crown had surrendered its rights to wrecks and findals (goods recovered at sea or washed-up on the shore). This led to disputes over acts of piracy committed under the guise of salving wrecks and the King was drawn in to resolving these disputes; a task often delegated to the Lord Warden and Constable. By the 14th Century, the Lord Warden played an increasing role in naval affairs and as Admiral of the Cinque Ports was responsible for mustering the fleet, as well as exercising discipline. This led to the establishment of the Admiralty Court of the Cinque Ports. The Lord Warden's interest in these matters was, no doubt, strengthened by his enjoying a share of findals and goods recovered from pirates!
The fact that the office of Lord Warden survived the following centuries owes much to the dual responsibilities of the holder to the Crown and to the people of the Ports. Appointed by the Crown to exercise control over the sometimes unruly Portsmen; on accepting office, the Lord Warden undertakes to maintain their rights and privileges. Seen by both parties as protecting their interests, the office has outlived many whose allegiance was seen as one-sided.
From the 14th century, the position of Lord Warden was increasingly
sought-after by members of the nobility. The royal princes who later became
King Henry V and King Henry VIII both held the office. More recently the position
has been bestowed in recognition of distinguished service to the nation and
to the Commonwealth. Occupants have included William Pitt, the Duke of Wellington,
Sir Winston Churchill and Sir Robert Menzies. The only woman to have held the
office, from 1979 until her death in 2002, was Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the
ŠThe Confederation of the Cinque Ports (2012)